Wednesday, 8 May 2013

EXPO Interview: Bruce Patten On Where The Money Is

Shoalhaven Business Exchange EXPO
Friday 17th May, 3.30pm
tel: 4423 3582 

Workshop 6: 
Government Programs & Grants

Bruce Patten
Pattens Group

How would you describe your role in business?
I have one of the best jobs in the world. As Managing Director of Pattens Group I visit and meet with some of the most brilliant minds and business people in the country.  I discuss what their business is currently doing and where they want to take it.  Only then am I able to assess which grants may be applicable to help them achieve their goals. I am then able to work with them, to secure the grants and see their dreams become reality.

What are the most common things most of us small business people DON'T know about getting grants or funding?
Most SMEs are unaware of the grants that are available to assist their business.  They don’t believe their business is entitled to receive money from the government.  Others believe the cost of preparing a grant application would be the same as the value of the grant they will receive.   So money that is being offered to help SME businesses is being rejected.

Many regional businesses are doing it tough. From your point of view what do we need to do to change the game?
Australia is doing it tough all over.  I meet with over 1000 business owners each year so I have a fair idea of the health of the Australian economy.  Everyone is struggling so you can’t change the game, you can only change how well you play the game.  Firstly eliminate from your concern all the things you have no control over, like interest and exchange rates.  Don’t worry unnecessarily about things you cannot change, just manage them.  Focus on the things you can control.  Like increasing the number of customers you have and the frequency they buy from you, the number of inquiries or referrals you receive and their conversion rate, the average value of each sale, the loyalty of your customers, the profit per sale, etc.  Your business is an asset, so make decisions that will increase the long term value of that asset.

Can you give us some examples of funding success stories?
We have hundreds, no thousands, of success stories over the years, each one unique.  For instance I was asked by a medical company who were struggling to survive to lodge an application for a grant of $300k to develop a new product.  After listening to the proposal over lunch I politely said “No.” I then followed with “If we claim $2m could you spend it?”  The application was successful and the company received nearly $3m in grant funding, successfully developed the new product and was eventually sold several years later for over $50m.
Another example is a company in Sydney that received a $100k Dairy Grant.  Why is that unusual?  Well they have no cows anywhere near their factory or car park.  But they use a milk derivative in their product and so were eligible for the grant.
When I was at Cochlear I claimed the Computer Bounty which was running at that time and reimbursed 25% of the manufacturing cost of “computers.”  While Cochlear manufactured the bionic ear I argued that the definition of a computer in the legislation made Cochlear eligible for the bounty.  After much argument from the government they finally conceded and forwarded a cheque for over $600k followed by many others until the scheme closed.

Name two business leaders who inspire you and why?
There is no secret to success or magic wand that can make a business succeed. Success is a by-product of skill, dedication and hard work. So the people that inspire me are those who play the game in an ethically and morally superior way.

Like Mark Bouris of The Celebrity Apprentice who runs his businesses exceptionally well but also has his family as a priority and still finds time to assist several charities.  He dresses up as Santa and hands out presents to the needy in Sydney.  His role on The Celebrity Apprentice while unpaid is motivated to some extent by the money raised for celebrities charities which now exceeds $20m.

Richard Branson is another self- made successful businessman who is very inspirational.  He has very strong ethics standing very strong for what he believes, does not shy away from challenges or opportunities but takes calculated risks.  His family is also very critical and important to him but as busy as he is, he still includes charities in his business structure through various foundations.
It’s never about whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

1 comment:

  1. I have one of the best jobs in the world. As Managing Director of Pattens Group I visit and meet with some of the most brilliant minds and business people in the country.
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